Suzi's Blog

Frozen Iceberg Lettuce with Champagne Vinegar

 

There are people who do not believe in evolution or genetics. I think they are wrong.

This recipe all started many years ago when I met Maria Guarnaschelli. CBTB was selected for testing The Joy of Cooking and Maria was the editor. At the time Maria told us of her daughter, Alex, who was into food. Ok, so a young girl is intrigue by the industry her Mom is a star in. Little did I know that  Alex would herself become a culinary superstar.

While traveling to Austin to visit my family, I was watching the Food Network and saw Alex’s new show, Alex’s Day Off. She put together a wonderful meal to share with a good friend. One recipe totally greabbed my attention: a very, very cold iceberg lettuce with a strong Dijon Vinaigrette. Take a look — but don’t over freeze the lettuce like I did the first time. Over freezing breaks down the cell walls and destroys the crunch you want.

 

Frozen Iceberg Salad with Champagne Vinegar

Yield: 2 big salads for 2 or smaller salads for 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head iceberg lettuce, outer layer removed and both ends trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small bunch fresh tarragon, washed, dried, leaves chopped

Preparation:

Put the head of lettuce on a flat surface and cut in half at the equator. Transfer the lettuce to a small tray and put it in the freezer.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the Dijon mustard, vinegar, and pinch of salt. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and then add the tarragon. Taste for seasoning and set aside.

Allow the lettuce to remain in the freezer until just before serving. They can remain in there for 4 to 6 hours, if necessary.

Suzen says: HOWEVER, by experimenting we have found that 6 hours is too much time in the freezer [too hard to navigate with a fork] and 90 minutes is just a tad light [not quite Arctic cold]. I think 2 hours will produce just the right combination of texture and cold.

When ready to serve, transfer to a platter and drizzle each half with the dressing. Serve immediately.

 

Tartine Stale Bread Soup

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I pride myself on my baking. It has only taken, what, about twenty years to get good at it. But I bake bread and it is very, very good bread. I bring it to every dinner party Brian and I go to, and each hostess is delighted to serve it, warmed with butter on the side.

I’m probably one of the few people to keep 100+ pounds of different flours in bins in my basement, but I do. On weekends, when I go upstate to relax, Brian often says to me, “Take it easy today.”

“I am,” I tell him. He smiles because by early afternoon it is too late. I’m pretty well dusted with flour and the countertops have a dozen loaves in various states of rising, falling, doubling, or cooling. Our house smells like a bakery. I love it.

Of course, I’m never content. I’m always looking for new flours, new recipes, new ideas. When I found the new Tartine Bread I realized I had struck gold. If you love baking bread, then this book is must for you. I travel with it back and forth, read it, study it, and I eat the results.

Day old bread? Here’s a very authentic, hearty recipe for you. When most of the population lived off the land and not in cities, a farming family’s big meal needed to be lunch. Workers needed sustenance, for recovery from that  morning of labor and carrying forward until the sun set and cows came home. Literally.

The simplest forms of this recipe use onions fried in oil or goose fat and then poured over stale bread, topped with a fried egg seasoned with vinegar. This production is richer, using stock and more vegetables to craft a full meal.

You’ll love this soup. You need Tartine Bread. The beautiful bread picture below is one of the Tartine recipes I tried with their superb techniques. I’ll be writing about the recipes and the techniques in posts to come.

Le Tourin: A Sustenance Soup

Yield: 2 very large servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or rendered duck or chicken fat, plus ¼ cup
  • 1 bunch young carrots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 yellow onions, cut into quarters
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed
  • 1 quart rich chicken stock
  • 2 large eggs
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Red wine vinegar
  • 3 slices day-old whole wheat or country bread torn into chunks

 

Preparation:

Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and warm the 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the carrots and onion quarters, cut-side down. Reduce the heat to medium and cook without stirring until slightly caramelized, 5 to 8 minutes.

Turn the vegetables, being sure to cook the second cut sides of the onion quarters. Cook until caramelized, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the kale and the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Heat a small omelet pan over high heat. Add the ¼ cup olive oil. When the oil is shimmering but not yet smoking, crack the eggs into the pan without breaking the yolks. Fry for about ½ minutes, carefully spooning some of the hot oil over the eggs to help cook the tops. Carefully pour off the excess oil. Season the eggs with salt, pepper, and vinegar.

Set the torn bread and vegetables in heatproof bowls. Pour the hot stock over the bread and vegetables. Top with the fried eggs and serve.

 

Source: Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson